Uber wins appeal for new operating licence in London

US-based company successfully overturns transport authority’s refusal to renew its licence over safety concerns.

Uber - which has 3.5 million customers and 45,000 drivers in the British capital - was permitted to continue operating during the appeal process [File: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP]
Uber - which has 3.5 million customers and 45,000 drivers in the British capital - was permitted to continue operating during the appeal process [File: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP]

Uber has won a legal bid to restore its London operating licence – which was taken away over safety concerns – after a judge ruled on Monday that the company was a fit and proper operator.

Transport for London (TfL) refused to grant the Silicon Valley-based company a new licence in 2019 due to what it called a “pattern of failures”. Uber argued it has since assuaged concerns over insurance verification and driver identification.

The US company was also denied a licence by TfL in 2017, a major blow in one of its most important markets, before a different judge restored it on a probationary basis.

The city’s transport authority refused to renew the ride-hailing company’s licence last year after failures relating to safety, insurance and drivers’ identity were discovered.

“Despite addressing some of these issues, TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time,” it said at the time.

The company – which has 3.5 million customers and 45,000 drivers in the English capital – however, was permitted to continue operating during the appeal process.

“I am satisfied that they are doing what a reasonable business in their sector could be expected to do, perhaps even more,” Judge Tan Ikram said on Monday.

“Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London … operator’s licence.”

The judge has not yet determined the conditions and the length of the licence.

Uber, which has apologised for mistakes it has made, has run into regulatory barriers and a backlash in other countries, forcing it to withdraw from some markets.

Shares in Uber rose 6 percent in pre-market US trading after the decision.

In London, it faces a number of rivals, including Ola, Freenow and Bolt.

The city’s traditional “black cab” drivers have also blocked streets in protest at what they see as a threat to their livelihoods.

Their association was critical of Monday’s decision.

“Uber has demonstrated time and time again that it simply can’t be trusted to put the safety of Londoners, its drivers and other road users above profit,” the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association said in a statement.

“By holding up their hands and finally accepting some responsibility, Uber has managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the court and create a false impression that it has changed for the better.”

Source : News Agencies

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